Lawsuits allege unnecessary heart surgeries at Ashland hospital

bestep@herald-leader.comMarch 4, 2014 

Doctors at King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland performed "medically unnecessary and harmful" heart procedures on more than 500 people, two lawsuits filed Tuesday claim.

The lawsuits, filed in state court, alleged that doctors at the medical center misrepresented the severity of patients' heart conditions to justify surgeries such as installing stents to get payments from federal healthcare programs.

The lawsuits name the hospital, several medical practices and Richard E. Paulus, a physician for whom the hospital's heart center is named. Paulus reportedly retired last year.

The lawsuit said federal authorities are investigating claims of widespread overuse of heart stents at the hospital.

Tom Dearing, a spokesman for King's Daughters, said the hospital "intends to defend the care provided by our cardiac program, of which we are very proud, and which has been recognized for its patient care and quality outcomes."

Dearing said some of the surgeries at issue date to 1995.

The Ashland lawsuits are similar to pending court claims of unnecessary heart surgeries at St. Joseph Hospital in London.

Louisville attorney Hans Poppe is involved in the claims against both hospitals.

The London hospital's parent company agreed in January to pay $16.5 million to the government to resolve false-billing claims related to heart procedures.

One doctor who practiced at the hospital, Sandesh R. Patil, pleaded guilty to federal charges of misrepresenting a patient's condition to justify a heart procedure. He is serving a 30-month sentence.

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